After both Get Out and Us mostly impressed audiences and critics, filmaker Jordan Peele returns with an exciting comedy/science-fiction-thriller that delivers in a big way. Peele definitely has a love and the skills for dark thematic material, but given that he began his career as a comedian, he obviously knows how to give his audiences a fun time at the cinema. Nope’s trailers may hint at something haunting and disturbing, but the finished product proves that he can ably blend the comedic with the tragic and dramatic quite well.
In the Agua Dulce desert of California, exists a ranch where horses are raised and trained for Hollywood entertainment. The ranch belongs to the Haywood family, and Otis Haywood Sr. (Keith David), after a freak and bizarre incident suddenly meets his demise when some random objects fall from the sky. Several years later, his son, OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya), still manages the ranch, but begins experiencing some bizarre phenomena of his own. After noticing what appears to be an unidentified flying object, he becomes obsessed with discovering the truth behind his and his sister Emerald’s (Keke Palmer) experiences and attempts to gain control over their situation.
I may have already revealed a lot, but I find it rather difficult to give a somewhat complete synopsis without offering some details. I will not say much more about the film, as I feel that too much disclosure will totally ruin what is an exciting cinematic ride. Written and directed by Jordan Peele, Nope is most definitely the filmmaker’s love letter to Spielberg, as it combines elements of both Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Jaws. In addition, the filmmaker delivers his brand of social commentary, but broadens his scope to that of the entire human race.
That is not to say that this movie does not have its flaws, but regardless of these problems, Peele still proves himself as a very talented and admirable filmmaker. He and his producers have certainly made some great choices in hiring Hoyte van Hoytema as the cinematographer and Michael Abels to compose the movie’s score. Both artists help cement his breathtaking vision, while also complementing Peele’s handling of humor, horror, and science-fiction.
In addition, the filmmakers have cast the perfect assortment of talent actors to complete the experience. I suppose, after working and winning with actor Daniel Kaluuya in Get Out, it came as a no-brainer to cast him as lead protagonist OJ. Kaluuya does not at all disappoint and beautifully portrays his character as strong, deliberate, and cautious type. At the same time, OJ Haywood is determined to get to the bottom of things, much like Roy Scheider does in Jaws.
As OJ’s sister Em, Keke Palmer brings much panache and sauce to her character. Em is obviously more of a people person, and has the gift of gab, along with a more rebellious streak that indicates a different kind of courage that her brother doesn’t have. There are three wonderful standouts in the movie. And first of which is actor Stephen Yeun as Ricky “Jupe” Park, the owner of a western-themed park who sees his community’s phenomena as an opportunity to make money. His story is much more complicated, but I will refrain from revealing that, as this spoiler would be too much to reveal. Let me just say, his journey is definitely key to the film’s main theme.
I also rather enjoyed the performances of Brandon Perea and Michael Wincott. Perea offers more comedic relief as a character who is an employee of an electronics store “Geek Squad.” After selling the Haywood siblings some devices to aide them with their problem, the tech support employee also becomes fixated with the Haywood’s troubles. As documentary filmmaker Antlers Holst, Michael Wincott serves as another entertaining character who is determined to capture the Haywood’s journey on film.
So obviously, I very much enjoyed and loved this movie. Now granted, I have some issues with Peele’s handling of everything he wanted to accomplish, but the majority of his ambitions work very well. Nope just goes to prove that Jordan Peele is not just a flash in the pan, and actually has much to contribute to cinema. I simply cannot wait to see what he does next, and hope, that one day, he can deliver us an absolute masterpiece.